Miami Football: Why the Biggest Loser of Nevin Shapiro Allegations Is Al Golden

Tim BielikSenior Analyst IAugust 16, 2011

CORAL GABLES, FL - DECEMBER 13:  Former Temple University football coach Al Golden, 41, sits with his wife Kelly Golden before being introduced as the new head coach at the University of Miami  on December 13, 2010 in Coral Gables, Florida.  Golden is replacing Randy Shannon, who was fired November 27 after a 7-5 season.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Al Golden's star seemed to be rising very high after turning around a downtrodden Temple program into a solid winner.

On Dec. 13, 2010, Golden was officially hired as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, a program far from the dynasty of Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson during the 1980s and early 1990s.

And before he can coach a game at the U, his star could go down with a sinking ship after Charles Robinson, Dan Wetzel and Yahoo! Sports dropped an atomic bomb-esque revelation of major scandal proportions surrounding booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro.

For a guy who had been a rising star, this was the worst possible type of scare he could get.

As many as a dozen current players and 60 former Hurricanes and seven different coaches, most of whom are no longer at Miami, were implicated in Robinson's story.

That means that Golden will have to take time away from teaching his players his new system and instead play damage control.

Among the players Shapiro told Yahoo! that took illegal benefits include DT Marcus Forston, QB Jacory Harris, S Ray-Ray Armstrong and LB Sean Spence.

That could likely force Golden to bench those players until their names are cleared, if they get cleared, by the NCAA.

It creates quite a problem for Golden as those are without a doubt some of his most talented players on the roster.

And that doesn't even start to scratch the surface of the implications that could come from this scandal.

The infamous death penalty has been thrown around on message boards and Twitter in the past few hours, as this is arguably up there, if true with the Fab Five and the SMU slush fund scandals, as some the biggest scandals in recent NCAA history.

But the death penalty seems highly unlikely at the moment because the Hurricanes are currently not on probation, which is the primary basis in the NCAA rulebook and the real technical term in the rulebook, the repeat violator rule.

According to the letter of the rule, those guilty of being repeat violators are eligible for the death penalty, but only in the case of the most egregious violators such as SMU.

But make no mistake, Shapiro's testimony could put Miami in a position where they would get everything but the death penalty.

The testimony describes, in detail, around a thousand violations involving players and coaches, in addition to plenty cases of potential lack of institutional control, the four deadliest words in any NCAA investigation.

Getting back to Golden, it would be a shame for such a gifted up-and-comer to be stuck in this kind of situation.

Unfortunately, that is where the chips fell for Golden.

Like Lane Kiffin at USC, he is left to pick up the pieces of what look to be a program whose image is more shattered than ever in its history.

Perception is as important at times as the reality.

And it's a shame that a good coaching career like Golden's could soon go up in smoke.

Unfortunately, fate isn't always the perfect dream.

Al Golden's fate could forever be tied down to Nevin Shapiro, a man he probably never met, but a man who may have done more damage to his coaching career than any one game ever could.

And therein lies the biggest shame of the Miami scandal, as it could have claimed the career of a rising star that never saw it coming.


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